Confess, Fletch, 2022.
Directed by Greg Mottola.
Starring Jon Hamm, Roy Wood Jr., Annie Mumolo, Ayden Mayeri, Lorenza Izzo, Kyle MacLachlan, Marcia Gay Harden, Kenneth Kimmins, John Behlmann. and John Slattery.
The roguishly charming and endlessly troublesome Fletch becomes the prime suspect in a murder case while searching for a stolen art collection. The only way to prove his innocence? Find out which of the long list of suspects is the culprit – from the eccentric art dealer and a missing playboy to a crazy neighbor and Fletch’s Italian girlfriend.
It’s fitting to start a review of Confess, Fletch with my confession, so here it goes: despite having grown up watching and admiring Chevy Chase as a comedic actor, I’ve never seen any of the Fletch movies, nor am I familiar with Gregory McDonald’s novel series.
Having said that, it’s pleasant to report that a lack of knowledge is not necessarily a detriment to finding enjoyment here, although plenty of callbacks and references are sprinkled with enough overtness to catch on and not feel lost. If anything, coming in blind and learning about Fletch (now played by Jon Hamm) as a character is arguably the most enjoyable part, as, unfortunately, the whodunit aspect is not very engaging, and the attempts at comedy induce cringe.
No longer a journalist of some repute, Fletch (full name Irwin M. Fletcher) finds himself in Boston, renting a townhouse near a professor (Kyle MacLachlan) whom his new Italian girlfriend Angela (Lorenza Izzo) is accusing of stealing her father’s expensive paintings. Upon his arrival, there is a dead woman, which springs forth the involvement of detectives (Roy Wood Jr. and Ayden Mayeri, respectively) and a host of suspects orbiting the life of the home’s owner, Owen (John Behlmann), not to mention Owen himself. It also comes to light that Angela’s father has been kidnapped and that the paintings are part of the ransom.
While avoiding the detectives, Fletch has several one-on-one interactions with the suspects, rarely producing exciting results. Part of the problem is that, under the co-writing/direction of Greg Mottola (who has collaborated with Jon Hamm before) and Zev Borow’s screenplay, Fletch is too dry for the character’s good. It’s fine that he goes about solving a homicide with a matter-of-factness and collected composure, but it doesn’t give the sleuth much to do.
Fletch finds himself reacting to the other characters, which are sometimes silly in genuinely amusing ways (Ayden Mayeri is terrific at slapstick humor) or flat-out unfunny (Annie Mumolo plays a talkative neighbor that invites Fletch over for dinner, practically burning her kitchen down in the process, which is supposed to elicit laughter). The bigger problem is that none of these characters are worth getting to know more.
There are details about Fletch that are interesting, such as his love for the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team, always representing them by wearing a hat that is cleverly incorporated into him becoming a suspect, or his previous work as a journalist and banter between long time editor friend Frank (John Slattery). But whenever one tries to focus on the mystery itself, there’s overriding boredom and a return to studying Fletch as a character; a smooth-talking pathological liar with ample assuredness that he’s not going to take the fall for the crime and that justice will prevail.
As with most whodunits, it’s inevitable that everyone will convene in the same room, which is also when Confess, Fletch finally starts eliciting laughs. By interacting with a calm Fletch, there’s not much room to build up a zippy back-and-forth conversation, but when all of these goofy personalities are tossed into the same room, the results are entertaining dysfunctional disaster. Credit is also deserved for a somewhat satisfying reveal (I was convinced I had things figured out, but it turns out I was only halfway there).
Jon Hamm’s laid-back approach to the character might have worked if the mystery in Confess, Fletch wasn’t devoid of a pulse. It’s left to the supporting players to carry the jokes, but few of them land. The thrills are in shorter supply.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com